Ellen, Scott, Phuong

Why I Did Not Quit Being an SLP: My SLP Story

This is one of many stories here at Bilinguistics. Today, I want to share my tale—a story about the people within the walls of our office.

Graduate School Woes

It’s been 12 years since our inaugural meeting. The year was 2003, and I was starting my doctoral studies at the University of Texas, and, truth be told, I had no right to be there. The content was over my head, the work did not match my professional goals and I could find no joy in my daily academic chores. For me, it was speech-language pathology in its most futile form. I would nod my head in my doctoral level class to disguise my brain-insecurities as a fellow classmate, Scott, easily contributed (completely unaware of his brain-awesomeness). Little did I know that our paths would cross again and again and again.

SLP Hardship

On one particular afternoon, I sat in a small office on campus. I looked at my statistics assignment, and the more I looked, the less I understood. I had two degrees under my belt, and I felt so dumb. In that moment, Ellen, a post-doc at the time, walked by. Always one to speak with sincerity and authenticity, she asked, “How are things?” I cautiously expressed my lack of understanding on the assignment, and she chose to sit down to help. Kindness is a choice, right? And, she helped a lot—I understood my work, my “hard” was validated and I found hope in the fact that I was capable of contributing to our field. Big things were brewing, and our fate was sealed. A few weeks later, I quit my doctoral studies. The letters P, H and D would not follow my John Hancock, and my SLP-rollercoaster was about to start.

Supporting Speech & Language Needs

Ellen, Scott, PhuongFor the next several years, I worked and worked and worked serving children, families and teachers in several elementary schools. Oh, the joy! I relished in making mistakes, learning and finding ways to better serve my students. Days were hard, and the work was meaningful. Luckily, I had the support of a bilingual SLP (a luxury) at my campus, the same Scott from graduate school. By this time, he was now a part of Bilinguistics, a company built by Ellen (what a coincidence!) to support the diverse language needs of children. Of course, like many SLPs, I would work with children who spoke Urdu, Spanish, Mandarin, and Tagalog, and it overwhelmed me. What am I supposed to do? So, I would reach out to them for support, and they always helped. Eventually, I had the honor of supporting the SLPs in this district, and Bilinguistics was there. When we needed bilingual SLPs, they were there. When we needed trainings, they provided it pro bono. When all school budgets were decreased in 2011, the district reduced their services but they continued to find ways to support us to serve our students with our current staff. Doing great (and compassionate) work mattered to them.  A few years later, my job responsibilities changed, and I was able to support our school districts in Central Texas. As SLPs sought support in serving children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, I would always go straight to Ellen and Scott. Was I biased? Yes. Did I believe in the highest level of service. Absolutely. So, I always brought in the best for my SLPs and 60 school districts.
This afternoon, as I write this, I have been a part of the Bilinguistics team for over two years. And, I feel that being a part of this magic is one of the smartest decisions I have made. I always say that I hold kindness in the highest regard, and the people within these walls epitomize that. Couple that with some stellar clinicians, and we have speech and language gold. From our SLPs to our office managers, Maritza and Anita, to Ellen to Scott, these people care. When you lead with kindness, you always make the right decision. Over and over, I have witnessed decisions that may not have supported monetary gains. Instead, we chose to bring support (and joy) to our clients and families. As we embark on a new chapter and move into our new office this month, I am excited to be a part of this team.  And, this feels good.
This morning, I sat in on an evaluation conducted by Scott. By the end of the session, the gentleman said, “I have had SLPs come to my house. And, it’s nice. But what you did today is, by far, the best work I’ve seen. The work you do here—it’s day and night compared to the rest.” And, I could not agree more. The heart-full and meaningful work we do here is important to us, and I am thrilled to be a part of the good work.

What is your SLP story? We would love to hear it.

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Written by: phuonglienpalafox

One Comment on “Why I Did Not Quit Being an SLP: My SLP Story”

  1. January 14, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    I’m so glad you didn’t quit being an SLP, Phuong. You are a huge asset to our field…and a true joy to work with!

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